Back Talk: Death by Hoes and the Curious Case of the Disappearing Signs
Jun12

Back Talk: Death by Hoes and the Curious Case of the Disappearing Signs

Disappearing Signs in Easthampton Say a LotIn times like these it is more important than ever to focus attention on fair and equal access to freedom of expression.For the past two weeks, I have been witness to what seems to be the twice illicit removal of a Black Lives Matter sign from the shoulder of Route 141 in a residential district near the base of Mt. Tom. It was about two weeks ago I first noticed the sign placed in the ground...

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Back Talk: Reader comments on marijuana, climate change, and addiction
Jun05

Back Talk: Reader comments on marijuana, climate change, and addiction

Sticky Green ThumbsA few responses to the May 25-31, 2017 O, Cannabis column: “Growing Your Own Weed In Massachusetts: A How-To Guide”Editor’s Note: Marty Klein was quoted in the article for his growing expertise.A slight clarification re: number of plants allowed. There is no limit on the number of plants a MA medical marijuana card holder can grow. They are limited, however, on the total weight of cured buds in their possession at...

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Back Talk: Life Is More Than ‘Get Them Fat Stacks’
May30

Back Talk: Life Is More Than ‘Get Them Fat Stacks’

I started talking with a customer the other day at work. He was looking for something in the store, not sure if we had it, he may have got something else. I was in the middle of something, not in the mood to make small talk. But we started to chat.We kind of butted heads at first, I had some other things to do, he had some real questions, and he may have been looking to talk a little as well. We’ve been understaffed lately, so it can...

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Back Talk: Why I Marched For Science
May22

Back Talk: Why I Marched For Science

Why I Marched for ScienceIn 1970, we celebrated the first Earth Day. I remember it vividly as a college student at the University of Michigan. The energy of the first Earth Day, focused on the alarming rate of deterioration of our environment, helped lead to landmark changes in policy such as creation of the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species Acts.Earth Day is now a worldwide event...

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Back Talk: Hope for Better Health Care
May15

Back Talk: Hope for Better Health Care

Hope for Better Health CareThank you for your piece in the Advocate (“Between the Lines: With Obamacare Under Fire, Massachusetts Must Lead on Health Care — Again,” May 11-17, 2017). However, it seems from it that you may not be familiar with House Bill 2987 and Senate Bill 619, Mass-Care, or our WMass network of pro-single-payer advocates and groups.You may also be interested in the fact that single-payer is in the Massachusetts Dems...

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Back Talk: Stop Sending Weapons to Syria for an Endless War
May08

Back Talk: Stop Sending Weapons to Syria for an Endless War

Stop Sending Weapons to SyriaAt a presentation given by the Northampton Committee to Stop Wars, I asked two Syrian speakers whether Syrians predominantly support President Assad or the rebels. They both said that the country is extremely divided and that their support goes back and forth depending on who most recently killed a family member. One said that he knew only two people left in Syria, his parents, and the rest were scattered...

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Back Talk: Naom Chomsky a Bummer But Speaks Truth
May01

Back Talk: Naom Chomsky a Bummer But Speaks Truth

Splitting Radiation HairsRadiation exposure at 10 mrem? 15? 25? Small fractions of what everyone gets from natural background? These being hypothetical exposures (outlined in “Nuclear Activists Raise Concern Over Vermont Yankee Quick Fix,” April 27-May 3, 2017) to the single, most exposed individual, calculated using ridiculously conservative hypothetical analyses — translation, nobody will actually get even a 10th...

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From our Readers: hot haikus and science marches
Apr17

From our Readers: hot haikus and science marches

Hot HaikusIn response to our call on our Facebook page “It is in the 80s today. Someone write a haiku about the weather in the comments”, here’s a few entries from the community:Massachusetts spring No rhyme or reason to it Roller coaster ride— Frank GiulianoHot enough to swim Spring has only just started Be prepared for snow— Wil KingHey, now I can use all of these ice cubes in my refrigerator.— Corey Plucker  Not so Rattled by...

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Letters to the Editor: ‘Achievers have been out bred and out voted’
Apr10

Letters to the Editor: ‘Achievers have been out bred and out voted’

Stay Home From SchoolBetter questions for the article (“Breaking the School to Prison Pipeline: Springfield reduces in-school arrests, but is it enough?”, March 30-April 5, 2017) would have been: Why were the students arrested? Did anyone do the same thing and were not arrested?We had children in schools when Dr. Peter Negroni was superintendent of Springfield schools [in the 1990s]. Crime in the schools was a regular occurrence. A...

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Back Talk: Weighing in on Boston’s Racism; and a Dumpty Trumpty poem
Apr03

Back Talk: Weighing in on Boston’s Racism; and a Dumpty Trumpty poem

You Can’t Make an Omelette …Poem and illustration by Mary L. Rice, maryl.rice@yahoo.comIs Boston Super Racist?Readers weigh in on the question posed in a Between the Lines of the same name in the March 30-April 5, 2017. Via FacebookEvan H Gregg: “Beloved Boston?” This is Western Mass, kid. Only people from Boston love Boston around here. — Ben Easton: Well put, man! What grinds my gears is those stupid traffic message signs —...

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Back Talk: Call out Anti-Semitism and Avoiding Fire Disasters
Mar27

Back Talk: Call out Anti-Semitism and Avoiding Fire Disasters

Tell it Like it IsEditor’s Note: This comment is in response to “Cinemadope: In Plain Site: Stories from overlooked worlds,” March 9-15, 2017, and the author’s statement, “Over the last few months, it has become impossible to ignore the rising tides of xenophobia, racism, and other forms of bigotry and hatred that have suddenly made America a much scarier place …” In the future could you include the word “anti-Semitism”? It...

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Back Talk: Music venues, a hero, and weed
Mar20

Back Talk: Music venues, a hero, and weed

Our Hero! Thanks for the Facebook comments left in response to “Don’t Be Afraid to Get Arrested: Longtime Activist Paki Wieland Says Today’s Protesters Aren’t Disturbing Enough People” Jim Sorter: Now we have a new hero who will inspire our lives. Thank you for letting us meet her! Kathleen Daly: ’Bout time someone put this to the page!Ana Thompson: Loved reading about this woman! Pro-Marijuana Groups are Blowing It Many people...

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Back Talk: West Mess, readers respond to ‘West Mass’ tourism video
Mar13

Back Talk: West Mess, readers respond to ‘West Mass’ tourism video

‘West Mass’ Responses on Facebook… We had some questions about the ‘West Mass’ video, an effort by the Greater Springfield Convention & Visitors Bureau and the Economic Development Council of Western Massachusetts to re-brand the area and attract tourists — and you had some thoughts about this dud, too. Here are some comments left on the Advocate’s website and Facebook page in response to “We Have Questions About That ‘West...

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Back Talk: Diversity in Metal? Circus Without Cliche
Mar06

Back Talk: Diversity in Metal? Circus Without Cliche

Diversity in Metal?Comments on WMass Metal: The Valley’s Diverse Scene Rises Again at valleyadvocate.com. Jenna Weingarten: How are you going to write a headline that says “diverse” in it and feature a bunch of white people and men? As someone in a Western Mass punk scene, I can confess WMass isn’t admittedly the most diverse place to be a punk, but there’s more diverse scenes than this crap. Honestly, in this day and age this is...

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Back Talk: Love Trumps Hate
Feb20

Back Talk: Love Trumps Hate

Facebook Love Response to “Love Trumps Hate: Transgender women find romance in an insane world,” Feb. 9-15, 2017.Melissa Robinson Ferris: I’ve known Bri since our sons were in grade school together 10 years ago! It’s wonderful to see her looking so well and sounding so happyCaroline Wills: What a great love story for Valentine’s day! Brianna and Amy thank you for sharing your story! The world needs more love stories! Leslie Gray:...

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Back Talk: What is Trump Doing in Holyoke?
Feb13

Back Talk: What is Trump Doing in Holyoke?

What is Trump Doing in Holyoke?As a teacher at Holyoke High School, I applaud your positive news piece about the students at Holyoke High School working to bring about more awareness to stop violence in our school community (“Between the Lines: What Do You Expect From Holyoke?” Feb. 2-8, 2017). However, I am perplexed as to why you would insert two paragraphs about Donald Trump into the article, which insinuates that this student...

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Back Talk: Heroin coverage doesn’t go far enough; Super Bowl ‘joke’
Feb06

Back Talk: Heroin coverage doesn’t go far enough; Super Bowl ‘joke’

Heroin Coverage Doesn’t Go Far EnoughThe reality is no one knows “how to get off heroin,” if that is defined as the final product of a treatment that has proven, predictable efficacy in creating long-term remission from opioid use disorders (“How to Get Off Heroin: An inadequate system takes on an epidemic,” Jan. 12-18, 2017). The obfuscating and confusing title and juxtaposed subtitle of this piece, however, are valid metaphors for...

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Back Talk: Cowabungled! and Are we great enough yet?
Jan30

Back Talk: Cowabungled! and Are we great enough yet?

One Week. Still Alive.My liberal friends are freaking over the prospect of the 45th president. But to be fair and balanced, I’ve decided to give the new president a chance. If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. I think I’m going to enjoy the “post-reality era” in American politics. Sure, the things he said during the election seemed scary. But he changed his mind so many times about so many things so fast and so often that we...

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Back Talk: More wishes for 2017, Save the EPA!, and King Stork’s inauguration
Jan16

Back Talk: More wishes for 2017, Save the EPA!, and King Stork’s inauguration

More WishesIn response to Hunter Styles’ “Between the Lines: Our Wish List for 2017” posted on Facebook.James Moses: “In the meantime, we’re trying to wish Hillary out of the woods and back into her pantsuit. Maybe the Clintons should relocate from Chappaqua to Stockbridge, and she — or he! — should challenge Baker for governor. Why not?” … if you even have to ask, Hunter, have ya really learned so little in the two-plus years...

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Backtalk: Cheers to good reporting on charter schools, the environment and fake news
Jan09

Backtalk: Cheers to good reporting on charter schools, the environment and fake news

Love for the Advocate Cheers to the Valley Advocate writers and staff for excellence in informative journalism covering topics with both local and universal appeal. Particularly notable in recent months was the “Extra Credit on Question 2 — Follow the Money” article by Hunter Styles that ran under the Between the Lines banner in the Nov. 3 issue. Mr. Styles’ piece brought into focus the out-of-state interests and national debate...

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Backtalk: Readers react to Halos and Horns
Jan03

Backtalk: Readers react to Halos and Horns

Halos & HornsEditor’s Note: Some responses to the Advocate’s annual section dedicated to the promoting and pooh-poohing of what went on in the last year.I just want to congratulate you on your latest issue. I found it engaging and on target. Beside the nods to Planned Parenthood, the SPLC, and other things close to my heart, I was heartened to see the Halo for my dear departed friend Ed Vadas, one of our region’s true and immortal...

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Back Talk: Not bigoted, just religious?
Dec19

Back Talk: Not bigoted, just religious?

Hey, Trump: Labor Secretary Should Champion WorkersPresident-elect Trump just selected Andrew Puzder as his nominee for Secretary of Labor. Unfortunately, as the CEO of Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr., Puzder holds a record of opposing the economic agenda demanded by the majority of the American public. On Election Day alone, voters overwhelmingly supported minimum wage raises and paid sick leave in all four states where the issue was on the...

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Back Talk: The US Flag and Electoral College
Dec12

Back Talk: The US Flag and Electoral College

US flag represents truths both inspiring and terribleWe write to offer a veterans’ viewpoint different from those dominating the events at Hampshire College in Amherst. We are members of chapter 95, Veterans for Peace, an international veterans’ organization whose mission is to build a culture of peace, expose the true costs of war, and heal the wounds of war. Though we wouldn’t burn the flag, we applaud and support the work of...

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Back Talk: Hampshire College Brings Back the Flag
Dec05

Back Talk: Hampshire College Brings Back the Flag

Forced to Fly a Flag?Editor’s Note: This letter is in response to Hampshire College’s recent decision to stop flying the American flag on campus. Shortly after receiving this letter, threats made against students, faculty, and staff were part of a decision at the college to raise Old Glory again on Dec. 2.Our traditional U.S. flag is a great symbol of our country’s history: the start, the wars, the unification of all the states. But...

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Back Talk: Time to Unite Under Trump?
Nov28

Back Talk: Time to Unite Under Trump?

Time to Unite?Was Peter Vancini’s Nov. 24-30, 2016 column “Between the Lines: One Nation Under Trump?” the kick in the pants you needed to get over your Clinton funk or the musings of a dreamer? Great thoughts on joining together at Thanksgiving instead of discussing political issues — we should be united, we are the United States of America!— Mike Lamontagne,Turners Falls Congratulations on the subject article. Very well...

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Back Talk: Fight for Health Care, Feeling Bad for Trump
Nov21

Back Talk: Fight for Health Care, Feeling Bad for Trump

Enough Disappointment to Go AroundI was sorely dismayed by the publication of your editorial as if Hillary Clinton had won (“Between the Lines: What Might Have Been,” Nov. 9-16, 2016). I am a supporter of Mrs. Clinton, but your decision to print the column you’d hoped would be relevant was not what good journalists do. Rather than working hard to write a poignant, meaningful and real column, you chose to fall back on the column you...

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Back Talk: Facebook Salutes Trump
Nov14

Back Talk: Facebook Salutes Trump

Facebook Salutes TrumpEditor Kristin Palpini’s lament over Hillary Clinton’s loss to Donald Trump in “Between the Lines: What Might Have Been” drew a bunch of comments: William G. Petrone: Trump won not because people liked Trump but because people did not want the incompetent, crooked wench as President. Kristin Palpini: Just like your statement implies: sexism had nothing to do with it. Joshua David: If Hillary was a man...

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Back Talk: A Totally Rigged Election and What’s Worse, Hillary or the Flu Shot?
Nov07

Back Talk: A Totally Rigged Election and What’s Worse, Hillary or the Flu Shot?

Totally Rigged Thank you, Editor Palpini, for the recent article about the “rigging” of the election (“Between the Lines: Are the Elections Rigged?”, Oct. 27-Nov. 2, 2016). It is indecorous in the extreme for Republicans to stoke the public’s fear of this possibility when they are the party that has done everything in their power both legally — voter ID laws, gerrymandering, etc. — and illegally — voter suppression — to “rig” our...

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Back Talk: Vote no on Question 2; Haunted by meat
Oct31

Back Talk: Vote no on Question 2; Haunted by meat

The low standards of charter schoolsI couldn’t believe it when I heard from the MTA that charter schools are not required to hire certified teachers, unless English as a Second Language/English Language Learners (ESL/ELL). They don’t even have to hire teachers with bachelors degrees. This was confirmed by the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. I’m a retired teacher, and we had to knock ourselves out to keep our...

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Back Talk: Charter schools and third party candidates, questions this years election brings
Oct24

Back Talk: Charter schools and third party candidates, questions this years election brings

Charter schools hurt larger societyCertain institutions should always be public. Social Security, prisons and education are three of them. We dodged a bullet when Bush wanted to privatize Social Security. People realized that the financial industry would be taking 31 percent of their contributions making their retirement benefits small. For a time we had private prisons in the federal system until it was realized that the owners were...

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Back Talk: Climate change, pipe-dreams, and kids with weed
Oct17

Back Talk: Climate change, pipe-dreams, and kids with weed

Bad Seeds? Kids and WeedComments left on “Bad Seeds: Will legal recreational weed lead to more stoned students?” at valleyadvocate.com.Paul Hurteau: Ask a politician if they are pro-choice … Wait for their answer and then ask them about marijuana.Ian James: Quit hiding behind the children. Those kids will soon be adults and distrust you for lying about the devil weed. Scare tactics only ruin your credibility. Prohibition is the...

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Back Talk: Cyclists Beware and Holyoke Charter Schools
Oct10

Back Talk: Cyclists Beware and Holyoke Charter Schools

Vertical Grates a Danger to CyclistsThe last part of my bicycle commute from Greenfield to Gill is the Gill-Montague Bridge. I had been enduring black hole potholes, asphalt that was worn down to dirt, and trucks and cars barrelling within feet of me. My vision of trips on a designated bike trail, with an unclenched jaw and leisurely glances at the river beneath were immediately shattered when I saw that they had installed vertical...

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Backtalk: Immigration celebration, saving water, and love for old lesbians
Sep26

Backtalk: Immigration celebration, saving water, and love for old lesbians

Celebrate ImmigrationI think the people of Northampton and the whole Pioneer Valley should take the lead and turn the arrival of refugees to our area into a celebration. Our country’s founding principles are based on no discrimination. Instead of fearing these unknown immigrants, let’s let them want to contribute to our community. Instead of greeting them with bigotry, why not present each of them with Statues of Liberty?...

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Back Talk: How About Some Decent Health Care Over Here?
Sep19

Back Talk: How About Some Decent Health Care Over Here?

Gratitude’s Nice, Affordable Healthcare is BetterThis past Grandparents Day some grandparents across our nation might get a telephone call or a note from a loved one. It is more important to focus on more crucial issues facing older Americans. Retirement and how to afford it is one critical issue that concerns seniors. Our healthcare costs have soared. A new study by Fidelity says couples need $260,000 in retirement just to pay our...

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BackTalk: A New Slogan for Trump, The Clintons by Andrew Loyd Webber
Sep12

BackTalk: A New Slogan for Trump, The Clintons by Andrew Loyd Webber

Editorial ArtDid you know Cinemadope columnist Jack Brown is also a talented illustrator? See his Trump campaign poster and more Brown art at jackjohnbrown.com.  The Rich Get RicherIf you ask enough people in our community if they’re able to sustain their families and make ends meet, you’ll quickly find out that too many of my friends and neighbors aren’t getting a fair shake. Even as the economy has turned around, most...

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